Des Moines, Iowa — Okoboji’s all-senior lineup did just what a coach expects from a veteran group. When things got tough, the Pioneers kept their cool and came through with a comeback victory 48-44.
Pekin controlled the first half with its sticky defense and led 26-12 after Gwynne Wright’s 3-pointer at the 5:53 mark in the third quarter. But the Lady Panthers went more than 5 1/2 minutes before getting another basket and Okoboji stormed back. A 17-1 run gave Okoboji its first lead at 29-27 late in the third quarter, and the Pioneers went ahead when Shaelyn Adams hit a 3-pointer from the right wing to make it 38-35. Their lead grew to six before Pekin rattled off five quick points to draw the score to 43-42 with 1:09 to play. Megan Peschong then sank four straight free throws and Brenna McCabe added one to finish it off.
Molly Mitchell led the charge for Okoboji with 19 points and nine rebounds. Peschong went 8-for-8 at the line in the final 1:23 and finished with 14 points, while Emily Wintz added eight for the Pioneers, who made it to state for the first time.
Beth Atwood led Pekin with 12 points and 12 rebounds and Cassidy Tolle scored 10.
Okoboji takes a 24-1 record into a semifinal against top-ranked Western Christian at 1:30 p.m. Thursday. Pekin finishes 24-2.